Ronda is one of Andalucia’s famous pueblo nuevos (white towns) and is perched above El Tajo Gorge in the Serrania de Ronda with spectacular views across the mountains down to the Costa del Sol.
Rather than drive there, we decided that we’d let the train take the strain so we could kick back and really enjoy the journey rather than have to navigate the winding mountain roads. The journey takes just over 90 minutes and there are trains departing Algeciras five times per day (although we hopped on at Estacion de San Roque – a tiny station about fifteen minutes up the track).
From the moment the train pulled out of the station the scenery was outstanding – storks nesting on telegraph poles, fields of sunflowers dancing in the breeze, oleander trees growing in the valleys of the mountain peaks we passed through – and we were lucky enough to be sitting on the right-hand side of the train which seemed to give the best views.
For a small town there’s a surprising number of things to do in Ronda. We were staying overnight but, if you’re strapped for time (perhaps on a daytrip from Malaga), I’d recommend making sure you don’t miss out on these five sights.
Despite being called the new bridge it’s actually over 200 years old and is probably the most recognisable thing about Ronda. The cobbled bridge spans the gorge between the old town (la ciudad) and the new town (el mercadillo) and, despite its bloodthirsty history (the chamber above the central arch was apparently used as a torture chamber during the Civil War with some unfortunate prisoners being thrown to their deaths at the bottom of the gorge), is now more of a tourist selfie spot.
El Tajo Gorge
To really appreciate the sheer size of the gorge (and get the obligatory photo of Puente Nuevo) we walked down to its base from the old town side of the bridge. It’s worth noting that Ronda gets hot in summer, like really hot. We did this trip in mid June and while the walk down into the gorge wasn’t too bad, getting back up was energy sapping – but totally worth it so don’t be put off but do carry lots of water!
Palacio del Rey Moro y la Mina
For a different view of the gorge we took a trip to the Palace of the Moorish King. For €5 we got access to the beautiful gardens and, from there, we climbed the 200+ steps down to the ‘secret mine’ coming out to the river at the bottom of the gorge. It was so peaceful – just the sound of the birds flitting around the cliffs and the lapping of the water. Definitely a nice spot to rest before tackling the steps again!
Plaza de Toros
While I don’t condone bullfighting, it was definitely worth visiting the bullring in Ronda. Entry was €6.50 and for that we got to look around the stables, stockyards and a small museum as well as the bullring itself.
As we had stayed overnight in Ronda we were able to get to the bullring not long after it opened so, until the tourist buses arrived, we were pretty much the only ones in there. Seeing it almost empty was quite an experience and it’s hard to imagine that, during fights, it seats 5,000 spectators.
Jardines de Cuenca
For another perspective of the Puente Nuevo we headed to the Cuenca Gardens. From the new town side of Ronda the terraced gardens lead down to Puente Viejo (old bridge) which crosses the river and leads to the old town. We pretty much had the gardens to ourselves and it was lovely to wander down and take in the alternative views of the bridges spanning the gorge.
There really is so much more to Ronda than the five things I’ve picked here so I will definitely be heading back to explore more – watch this space!!
We stayed in Hotel Andalucia which I booked primarily due to its proximity to the railway station (it’s quite literally just across the road). Our room (on the ground floor) had recently been refurbished and, although small, had a comfortable double bed, a lovely shower, and the usual facilities you’d expect from a budget hotel.
Breakfast was a bit of a fiasco (too many people, not enough staff) but it wouldn’t stop me staying here again – I’d just go out for churros con chocolate instead!